Physical therapists are experts on body movement and the musculoskeletal system. They create treatment plans for patients that help them regain strength and flexibility, relieve pain and improve their daily functioning. People of all ages and with a wide range of conditions can benefit from physical therapy. Here are five reasons to see a physical therapist.
1. Physical Therapy Relieves Pain
Musculoskeletal pain is one of the most common reasons people seek medical care. Physical therapists are trained to effectively and safely treat pain from injuries, arthritis, and other conditions.
Therapists use a variety of techniques to improve range of motion and relieve pain. You can expect non-invasive treatments like soft tissue mobilization, electrical stimulation, trigger point therapies, and exercises.
Physical therapy for pain has two goals: relieving the pain and bringing the body back to health and balance. Often, pain and injury are caused by imbalances in the musculoskeletal system. These could be related to muscle strength, soft tissue tension, or foot and gait problems. By correcting these underlying issues, physical therapy not only restores function and relieves pain, but also prevents future injury.
Physical therapy can be an uncomfortable process when you are working on a painful condition. A compassionate physical therapist will listen to your feedback while motivating you to push forward with treatment. Before every session, your therapist will evaluate your progress using a physical exam and a questionnaire about how you are doing at home. Physical therapy always aims for measurable progress, so you can rest assured that you will feel better once your treatment plan is complete.
2. Physical Therapy Assists With Recovery From Surgery
Some surgeries require a physical therapy appointment before release from the hospital. Knee replacement and hip surgeries fall into this category. For these patients, physical therapy is a vital part of regaining mobility and working through post-surgical discomfort.
Surgeries on the foot, ankle, back, neck, and shoulder also require physical therapy afterward. Post-surgical physical therapy helps to stabilize joints, build strength and improve range of motion. It can also educate you on how to manage at home, so you don’t re-injure yourself.
Pre-surgical physical therapy is less talked about, but equally beneficial. Patients struggling with knee or back pain sometimes find that physical therapy can resolve their pain and prevent surgery. Even when surgery is unavoidable, physical therapy can strengthen the body so it recovers better after surgery.
3. Physical Therapy Helps To Prevent Falls
Your inner ear, nervous system, and major muscle groups work together to assist with balance and coordination. Issues like vertigo, weak core or leg muscles, and neuropathy impair balance and increase fall risk.
Vertigo is a type of dizziness. It may originate in the brain, but is more commonly caused by inner ear problems, like infection or out-of-place calcium crystals. Together with other treatments, physical therapy can assist with relieving inner ear pressure and inflammation and moving crystals back into place. Physical therapy will teach you how to prevent vertigo episodes in daily life and may include exercises to help your brain and other senses compensate during an episode. Treatment can help you recover from vertigo and lessen your chances of a fall.
People struggling with neuropathy in their feet are at a higher risk for a fall. Neuropathy is caused by peripheral nerve damage. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, and pain. Numbness is the most dangerous symptom, as it can make walking up stairs or even over flat terrain treacherous. Physical therapists use nerve gliding and other techniques to encourage healing and reduce symptoms. Your therapist will teach you how to compensate for your neuropathy in daily life to help you stay safe at home.
Keeping major muscle groups strong and flexible is essential to balance and mobility. If you have any additional challenges, like vertigo, neuropathy, or other disorders, it’s even more important to keep muscles strong. Physical therapy is helpful for older adults or those who find themselves out of shape at any age. Strategically strengthening the body and improving range of motion reduces fall risk.
Physical therapy is an effective means of fall prevention that can help older adults and those with special needs live well and prevent serious injuries that could put them in the hospital.
4. Physical Therapy Treats and Prevents Sports Injuries
Even athletes in peak condition can take a hard tackle or make an awkward move that damages muscles, tendons, or ligaments. These injuries can keep you on the bench for weeks or months. Physical therapy improves healing times and outcomes for sports injuries. We use non-invasive techniques to encourage the body to heal well and not form excess scar tissue. Your therapist will also focus on rebuilding strength and improving your range of motion.
If an older injury is still bothering you, we can treat that too. Often, reduced function or continued discomfort is caused by excess scar tissue or low-level inflammation. Physical therapy can break up scar tissue and encourage blood flow to the area. This promotes healing and reduces inflammation, stiffness, and pain.
Building a healthy, athletic body is all about balance. Too much muscle bulking can reduce flexibility if you don’t have a balanced fitness routine. A bulked-out chest and weak back may cause posture challenges and joint pain. A physical therapist can help you stay balanced and healthy, thus reducing your risk of injury.
5. Physical Therapy Improves Mobility
Many of the conditions we’ve already mentioned, such as major surgeries, vertigo, and weak core muscles, can impede mobility. Other conditions like stroke, muscle wasting after a long illness, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis can make movement difficult or painful.
Even when neurological conditions like stroke or multiple sclerosis strike, there’s still hope. Physical therapy can help train neurons that haven’t been damaged to compensate for the damaged ones. A physical therapy treatment plan can help patients with these conditions regain much of their lost function and mobility. Since physical therapy focuses on the whole patient, your therapist will also help you learn how to live better at home.
Musculoskeletal conditions like arthritis and muscle weakness are treated with exercises and stretches to calm inflammation, build strength, and improve flexibility. The goal of physical therapy is to not only treat you in the office, but to send you home with the tools to self-manage, so you maintain your progress.
Physical Therapy in Houston
At Vanguard Spine & Sport, physical therapy is one of the key treatments we provide at our integrated pain clinics. Together with nurses and chiropractors, our physical therapists create a personalized treatment plan for their patients that aims to restore function, reduce pain and help them live healthier lives outside the clinic. Schedule a consultation today to find out how physical therapy can improve your quality of life.